In today's Education Dive they cover the topic of professional development for college instructors, a topic that recently came up during the American Association of Community Colleges meeting this past week in New Orleans. The basic gist of it all? According to Wallace Community College Dean Tony Holland,
“professional development has to be relentlessly focused on student success.”
A simple place to start might be the sharing of best practices. Often discussed and implemented in the days of six sigma on corporate campuses, sharing best practices and success stories is beginning to find its way onto college campuses as well. Wallace, Holland and his team circulate weekly spotlights on faculty members who are getting a particular thing right. The spotlights consist of the faculty member, department chair, dean, associate dean and instructional dean all adding their own short narratives about this person’s approach. They’re sent out to the entire staff, and Holland says this has been tremendously effective.
One factor to keep in mind is the changing composition of the faculty workforce - 70% of instructors at community colleges are part-time faculty. In fact, contingent or part-time faculty teach 58% of all course sections taught across the United States each year. This isn't terribly surprising to those of us who have been working in education, but for those who remember fondly traversing the quad from ivy-covered buildings to their dorms that just isn't the experience that most students have today. So why is the topic of professional development popping up now?
“It’s a transactional arrangement, with little in and out — you show up, you teach a class, and you get a notably small amount of money for it. That’s the exchange. So how do you make the case that you should be using more” of your own time and resources to invest more into student teaching and learning, asked Howard, who herself started out her career as an adjunct.
As higher education continues to evolve, let's keep the sights focused on what counts - advancing student learning and improving the odds of student completion and success - and align the right tools, processes and incentives to make that happen.

Professors are hired to teach, but few are ever taught how

If 60 full-time faculty members each retained one additional student per course who would have otherwise dropped out, the college could stand to gain an additional $1.6 million per year in revenue.